Wherever you go, there you are

It is October. It is fifty degrees here in Seattle, and fall has descended. The leaves have started to change colors and drop, and there is the occasional smell of wood smoke in the air. The coffee shops everywhere are offering pumpkin spice lattes, and as some stores are merchandising for Halloween a tacky few are already on to Christmas. I am enjoying the crisp tang to the air and the rains are becoming more common again.

Fall has always been my favorite season and I really enjoy it although the seasons differ a bit depending where you live. Fall here feels different than a New York autumn like those of my childhood. Minnesota is yet another experience. I wonder if this time of the year brings many discernible differences for someone in a warmer clime like that of Texas. I may never find out as I don’t care for the heat.

I have been thinking about this lately as I try to stay mindful of my surroundings and the passing of the seasons is part of the awareness I cultivate. I’ve also been thinking about seasonal markers because of my haiku practice. I work with a haiku group that often assigns seasonal words for the haiku, but these seasonal words are collected from Japan. Some things remain the same, but many of their festivals and celebrations are different. They don’t have all the same flora and fauna that are in other places.

This year I think I’ll compile some season words that are specific to Seattle. As a transplant, I’m trying to notice what marks the season here. What makes Seattle itself and not somewhere else? I think these are valuable questions to ask, and I’ve noticed more clues since I’ve started wondering. Sometimes answers can only come once questions have been formulated. My brain is buzzing and my hand is up in the air. I’ve got lots to ask.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
264. Start asking some questions about the place where you live. What makes it unique to itself? How does your town and region mark the seasons? Is that different than somewhere else you have lived?


Details details

I love the change in the seasons. I’ve never been much of a fan of summer, so while others are mourning the summer’s demise I am looking forward to the fall. I love autumn and always have although it’s not nearly as marvelous here in Seattle as it was when I lived in New York–we got crisper air and therefore nicer leaves. It was more of a transition, although here it will cool down a bit and the rains will start coming back. This is still a win.

As a writer and a Zen girl, I try to be observant. One of the ways I hone my abilities to notice and stay in the present is through various forms of art. I love to draw. If you get very quiet and just observe a thing and draw what you see you’ll notice things you might never have noticed before. In order to draw something well you need to really look at it. The skill in your fingers will come with practice, but it all starts with the eye. Once you start drawing on a regular basis you’ll start studying things with a casual glance. Beware, as you may start to get distracted by the lovely curvature of your next teacup or the patterns on the light sconce in the hallway. You are starting to see, and it is good.

I also write haiku. In order to write about a brief moment you must first see that moment in all its detail. The more detail you have, the more choices you have as a writer when crafting your haiku. Writing is also a way to take a tour of your own brain. Writing exercises require you to use details you have stored up in your memory. I particularly like¬†writing exercises that use random words¬†because they allow me to create something that I might not have imagined otherwise. I wander around noticing things, and it is this reality that infuses the poem or story even if that poem or story is about outer space. All writing is grounded in some sort of truth, no matter how fantastical it might be. If it isn’t, it generally fails because people do not believe it. You may not believe in hobbits, but everyone knows someone who would rather sit and eat cakes than go on an adventure. We know someone like Bilbo Baggins, and therefore we accept a lot that doesn’t make sense within our own experience.

As the season changes I’m going to be noticing how those changes manifest in Seattle. I want to fully experience whatever the fall has in store for me, and I can’t wait for the rain to start.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
257. How does the change in seasons manifest where you are? Are you noticing as much as you could? Try drawing something or writing about it and see if you notice more than you normally would.

Lovely weather we’re having

I can tell that the fall is on its way here in Seattle. The first signs of impending autumn are the signs outside the numerous coffee shops, which all start to advertise pumpkin spice lattes and hot apple cider. The Halloween candy is starting to push the school supplies off the shelves, and—oh yes—it’s getting a bit cooler.

The temperature change is the most subtle of the clues, because it just doesn’t get that cold here in Seattle. Most of my life I’ve lived in places where you cannot escape the signs of the season. Leaves turn colors, wood smoke fills the air, and it starts to feel quite chilly. I miss that sometimes, although I seldom miss the winter weather that follows it. Still, fall remains my favorite season.

Another great thing about fall in Seattle is that the rain starts to come back on a more frequent basis. Suddenly the sky is overcast on more days of the week, and the skies will start drizzling at least once a day. I love it. Bright sunny days do not thrill me the way that they thrill others. I don’t want to squint my eyes or melt in the heat. The return of the rainy season thrills me. Soon we’ll be having full-out downpours, the sidewalks glistening as people do their holiday shopping. The horse buggies will start circling the downtown again, and the steel drummers will start playing on the corners, trying to get some coins from those out to buy presents. Seattle shows its seasons in a different way than other places I’ve lived, but the traditions here are as predictable as everywhere else.

If it should happen to snow once the winter comes, it’ll be a real event. During the three years I’ve lived here I’ve seen perhaps two inches of snow at the most, and every faint dusting sends the town into a panic. Having lived through blizzards that dumped three feet with barely a disruption in the normal routine, I find this amusing. Of course they don’t salt the steep streets here, and the city is rumored to have only one snow plow. That does make a difference.

I don’t have to worry about these false calamities right now. I’m going to enjoy my day under Seattle’s white and cloudy sky, giving thanks that I’m in a place that suits me. If I’m lucky, I’ll even get rained on. What more could I ask for?

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

184. What are the signs of fall where you are? Do you enjoy the season? Why or why not?